Study Looks at Mental, Physical Effects of Family Violence Among Older Black Women
Older black women who are exposed to high levels of family and domestic violence reported feeling worse physical and mental health than black women who have experienced less violence, according to a study published in the Journal of Women's Health, Reuters Health reports. The study was led by Anuradha Paranjape of Temple University School of Medicine. According to the study, most of the research examining the health effects of family violence focuses on younger women and domestic abuse.
For the new study, Paranjape and colleagues developed a 29-item scale to measure the mental and physical effects of both domestic and elder abuse on 158 black women ages 50 and older. All of the women were patients of a clinic at a public hospital. According to the study, while a small fraction of the women surveyed said they were currently victims of family violence, nearly 28% had been exposed to a lifetime of family violence based on scores from the scale. "But while these women perceived their mental and physical health as being worse, they actually had the same number of health problems as women exposed to less" violence, Reuters Health reports.
Paranjape said, "There's a definite link between being exposed to different types of violence in the home as an adult and worse health status." The study notes, "Our findings are striking in that the overall health status of those who have experienced high levels of family violence is much lower than published norms for both African-Americans and women in general but is similar to the health status of a chronically ill, economically disadvantaged population."
Researchers also found that unemployment and high levels of family violence as an adult were associated with worse physical and mental health status. Paranjape added that the next step is to determine why women who have experienced more family violence feel worse than others, and then figure out how they can be helped (Harding, Reuters Health, 3/25).
The study is available online (.pdf).